West Seattle, Washington
When we reported last week on the arrest of 26-year-old Joseph Depaco after a police search in the West Duwamish Greenbelt, we noted that court records revealed he had just been sentenced in another case. Tonight we have word of a charge filed in last week’s incident, plus an explanation of why he hadn’t begun serving the alternative sentence he got for the other case. (At left is a photo of Depaco we obtained from the state Corrections Department.)
The new charge filed by the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office is possession of a stolen vehicle, a felony. The vehicle in which police say they found Depaco in the greenbelt was a stolen Toyota Tacoma pickup. A passerby reported it as suspicious, and responding officers say that after they found Depaco asleep in the vehicle, he woke up and bolted, which led to a ground and air search that resulted in his arrest. (He is not charged in connection with the under-construction gun found in the vehicle.)
We had asked the KCPAO for more background on why Depaco wasn’t already in the residential drug-treatment program to which he was sentenced as part of a three-case plea bargain February 4th. He was supposed to enter the program within a few days, they explain, but after the sentencing, the treatment provider canceled the original date and said it would not have a bed available until today. Depaco had been out of jail since January 7th, which the KCPAO says was his original sentencing date, and that’s why the new charge was filed today with an “aggravating factor” of “rapid recidivism.” That could lengthen the sentence if he’s convicted. Tonight Depaco – who already has seven felony convictions – remains in jail in lieu of $50,000 bail and is due next for arraignment on the new charge February 28th.
Thanks to Margaret for the tip. She got a postal-mail flyer from Seattle Public Utilities about work coming up on 8th SW just north of SW Roxbury and thought you should know, given the increased traffic through that area because of bridge detouring. We asked SPU about it, and they sent the flyer, which says the work will repair a sewer line on 8th between Roxbury and Cambridge. Work could start as soon as next Monday (February 21st) and could last up to three weeks. Lane closures and parking restrictions are part of the plan, which says general work hours will be 7 am-4 pm weekdays.
9:44 AM: Thanks to the multiple readers in Highland Park who have sent word of this – an Xfinity/Comcast service outage that the company says is affecting more than 2,500 customers. Let us know if it’s affecting you in other areas; we’re checking with the company.
ADDED MONDAY EVENING: We dead-ended while looking for a Comcast contact earlier but a regional spokesperson emailed us tonight to say: “We experienced an interruption today at 8:03 a.m. with our internet service in Highland Park. Our engineers began working to address the issue immediately and as of 8:44 a.m., service was restored. We apologize to those who were affected.”
4:31 PM: Thanks to everyone who asked about the helicopter search in Highland Park. Guardian One was assisting Seattle Police with a search. We don’t know yet what incident it’s linked to, but we do know they just took someone into custody in the greenbelt over Highland Park Way/Riverview Playfield. More details when we get them.
5:09 PM: No official info from police yet, and we couldn’t find officers on the ground, but scanner traffic and another reader tip indicates it was related to a stolen car.
6:05 PM: Guardian One confirms via Twitter that the search was for a driver who fled a stolen car.
7:54 PM: Even more details, and a photo, from SPD:
Just after 3:00 p.m., a parkgoer reported a man asleep in a red pickup truck parked on a foot path in the greenbelt area of Riverview Park. When responding officers contacted the man, he fled on foot into the woods. Police quickly discovered the truck had been registered stolen earlier this week in North Seattle, and spotted a rifle in the back seat.
With the help of King County Sheriff’s Office helicopter Guardian One, SPD officers on the ground found the suspect hiding in the greenbelt and arrested him.
Police transported the 26-year-old man to King County Jail to book him for possession of a stolen car and unlawful possession of a firearm. It appears part of the rifle was still being constructed. Nevertheless, the suspect is a convicted felon and prohibited from possessing firearms. However, during the booking process at KCJ, the suspect deliberately punched a concrete pillar, causing injuries which required treatment at Harborview Medical Center. Officers plan to book the man into jail when he is medically cleared at the hospital.
2:04 PM: Seattle Fire is sending a “full response” to a possible fire in the 8100 block of 15th SW [map]. First crew to arrive reports “light smoke.” Updates to come.
2:07 PM: Turned out to be another small fire, already out, and the response is being downsized.
Another major combined-sewer-overflow storage tank is planned for our area, this time on the east edge of West Seattle, near the 1st Avenue South Bridge. This is the West Duwamish Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Project, and its aim is to comply with orders to reduce the number of overflows into the Duwamish River – specifically one outfall on SW Michigan Street that overflows an average of 4.6 times a year and one at Terminal 115 that overflows an average of 1.7 times a year. The new facility near 2nd SW/SW Michigan will be on 60,600 square feet of T-115, which is owned by the Port of Seattle, centered on a 1.25 million gallon underground tank – 140′ x 110′, 26′ deep – and related pipes. Here’s the King County Wastewater Treatment Division map:
For comparison, the storage capacity is 25 percent more than the big tank built across from Lowman Beach five-plus years ago, now known as the Murray Wet Weather Facility. The West Duwamish project will also include an above-ground 5,300-square-feet “facility building and outdoor odor control area” plus landscaping including a “stormwater bioretention facility.” The project also includes associated facilities such as a “diversion structure” near West Marginal Way and Highland Park Way SW.
Construction is not expected to start until 2025, but another key comment period is open now. Through February 14th, comments are being taken on the environmental checklist for the project – you can see it here. You can comment via email at WTDSEPA@kingcounty.gov. You’ll get a chance for a briefing and Q&A about the project at an upcoming HPAC meeting – watch hpacws.org for word of that.
Almost four months after we reported the closure of Morning Star Mini-Mart at 8th/Henderson in Highland Park, we know what’s moving in. Greene Information Systems is moving its headquarters there, from Georgetown. The company won’t be a tenant – its ownership bought the 4.200-square-foot, 75-year-old building and the 13,000-square-foot site it’s on. We contacted the company after seeing it named on preliminary site-plan documents in city files. According to Christian Castro, who responded to our inquiry on behalf of the company, the owners and many of the employees live in West Seattle. Greene IS serves as “outsourced IT” for more than 100 clients and is a Microsoft consultant. They’re doing interior renovations on the building to turn it into office space for their U.S. staff, which he said currently numbers about 17. At some point years down the road, the site has redevelopment potential, since it’s zoned for mixed-use that could have commercial space on the ground floor and residential above, but there are no near-term plans for that, he said. As for how soon Greene IS expects to move in – Castro said they’re estimating three to seven months but that’s dependent on how the city permitting process goes.
Here are highlights of what happened at HPAC‘s January meeting online last night, led by co-chairs Kay Kirkpatrick and Craig Rankin:
PUBLIC SAFETY: First, from the Southwest Precinct, acting Lt. David Terry was there along with one of the officers who work east West Seattle, Officer Macaully Lakin. Terry showed screens from two public SPD data dashboards – crime reports and dispatches. (You can use the dashboards to check stats from various neighborhoods by choosing the MCPP option.)
After three town halls to talk about the future of the Highland Park Improvement Club HQ – ravaged by fire seven months ago – it’s close to time for decisions: What should be built? That will dictate how much it could cost, how much needs to be raised, and how long it would take. If you missed last Wednesday’s third town hall, here’s the recording:
The design team for the project, Highland Park’s own Wittman Estes, shared concepts for the building’s potential size/shape – from humble to grand – as well as concepts for how its interior might be laid out. But the amount of money HPIC will get from insurance – up to $750,000 – would only cover a very basic building; though no price tags were provided for the possibilities, it’s clear anything beyond the basics will require fundraising. Since last week’s town hall, HPIC has met with a professional fundraiser, though the discussion was very early-stage – no conclusions yet, HPIC’s Kay Kirkpatricktold us. She stressed during the town hall that they don’t want to do something that might eventually jeopardize HPIC’s ability to keep the building maintained and to guarantee continued community ownership.
One idea brought up repeatedly during the town hall was the building’s past and potential future use as a music/entertainment venue. Participants observed that West Seattle remains low on performance space, and a rebuilt HPIC has the potential to help fill that void even more than it did pre-fire/pre-pandemic.
Another key point was to remind everyone that while SW Holden, which runs along the building’s south side, is choked with West Seattle Bridge closure detour traffic right now, it will be much different by the time the new building opens – next year if things go well.
Toward the town hall’s end, it was suggested that a deadline be set for ending public comment at this phase of the process, so the architects can get on with creating a preliminary design for the next meeting. Kirkpatrick told WSB this afternoon that there’s no date yet for that potential deadline, nor for the next meeting. So if you have something to say, but weren’t able to attend the town hall, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s also how to step up for volunteer help that HPIC sorely needs with maintaining the building site – particularly landscaping – while it’s idle. And as we’ve noted before, while the entire community has been invited into the rebuilding-planning process, HPIC members get the final say – here’s how to join.
For the first time in three months, HPAC – the community coalition for Highland Park, Riverview, and South Delridge – will gather (virtually) this Wednesday. The agenda includes two topics of perennial concern for every neighborhood – crime and traffic. SPD will be there for trends and Q&A about the former; SDOT will be there to talk about Flip Your Trip, which the department says is now up to 5,000 signups from people trying commute alternatives. All are welcome to the online meeting at 7 pm Wednesday (January 26th) – connection/call-in information is on the HPAC website. (Here’s our coverage of the previous HPAC meeting back in October.)
Almost seven months after the fire that severely damaged the Highland Park Improvement Club building (12th/Holden), major decisions remain about its future – how much of it to rebuild, and what purpose the new building could serve. Those have been topics of two online “town halls” so far (WSB coverage here and here), and now it’s time for the third, Wednesday (January 19th) at 7 pm. As announced by HPIC, “Architect Matt Wittman and Landscape Architect Jody Estes of Wittman Estes will facilitate the meeting again. We will be discussing the results of the Community Priority Questionnaire and how this input relates to the building, with diagrams and sketches to help visualize.” Even if you haven’t participated in the process so far, you’re welcome to jump in now. Connection information for the meeting is on the HPIC website.
All lanes are now open again on the Highland Park Way hill between West Marginal and SW Holden, two days after the latest landslide. Last night we reported on the SDOT/Seattle Parks plan for erosion control to deter recurrences. Today we asked SDOT about what was done after the February 2017 slide that closed the hill for two days.
Five months after that slide, we reported on City Council funding for a planned “rock buttress” in the area. We don’t have a record of what happened after that, so we asked SDOT. Spokesperson Ethan Bergerson confirmed that the pre-existing concrete blocks south of the recent slides are part of the measures taken after the 2017 slide:
The landslides this past week have occurred at another location to the north of the 2017 landslide. Because Highland Park Way travels alongside about half a mile of the West (Duwamish) Greenbelt without connecting to any other roads, both landslides resulted in the same stretch of road being closed even though they occurred on different slopes.
In 2017, there was a large landslide to the south of where the landslides occurred this past week, which resulted in Highland Park Way SW being closed for multiple days. Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) and Seattle Parks and Recreation (Parks) worked together on erosion control measures in this location. Parks crews installed permanent erosion controls and planted native plants on this part of the slope in spring 2017, and SDOT crews returned in the summer to install a concrete block wall with a rock buttress to stabilize the base of the slope (the rocks are behind the concrete blocks and can’t be seen from the street). The steep slope in this location has been stable since then.
This week, SDOT crews installed over 60 feet of concrete blocks as a temporary measure. Parks is also planning to perform additional temporary erosion control measures, and both agencies are planning to return in the spring to install more permanent measures which can only be done when the ground is not so saturated with water.
The area has long been slide-prone; the 2000 Seattle Landslide Study has multiple references.
This Saturday (January 15th), everyone is welcome at a socially distanced health event at Highland Park Elementary (1012 SW Trenton). HPES says it’s open to all ages. They’re offering COVID-19 vaccinations – 1st, 2nd, or booster shots – plus health screenings (glucose, cholesterol, blood pressure, BMI) and mammograms (call 800-756-5437 for an appointment). The health event also offers resources such as ORCA Lift cards and health-insurance signup help. A free food truck will be on site too. The event is scheduled for 11 am-3 pm Saturday; here’s the flyer.
Two lanes of Highland Park Way will remain closed until at least tomorrow, SDOT says, in the aftermath of two landslides (Friday and Tuesday). That’s a “safety precaution due to the risk of more landslides while it continues to rain,” according to spokesperson Ethan Bergerson. So what’s being done to address the ongoing risk? Bergerson says SDOT is working with Seattle Parks – which owns much of the slope alongside the uphill lanes – “to plan temporary erosion-control measures now, as well as to promote more vegetation in the spring.” Among those measures are “concrete blocks at the base of the hill to support and hold back the land” – those were installed before the road was partly reopened last night. In spring, when conditions are better for vegetation growth, the plan includes hydroseeding the slope “to protect the near surface soils.”
These slides came five years after a massive slide closed the same stretch for two days. Five months after that, the City Council was considering supplemental-budget funding for a $60,000 “rock buttress” along that same section of Highland Park Way; we’re still researching what eventually happened – Google Street View shows concrete blocks along part of the road, across from the SW Othello intersection – adjacent to where the new ones have been placed, as shown in the top photo, following Tuesday’s slide.
12:24 PM: Just happening now: Police are closing Highland Park Way hill, both ways, because of another slide. “Just like last week,” one officer radioed in. Last week, you’ll recall, a slide closed that stretch of the crucial detour route for a day and a half.
12:34 PM: Thanks to the texter who sent that photo taken before the road was closed. Unlike last week, the power lines do not appear to have been affected this time. (added) Here’s the traffic camera at the bottom of the hill:
2:04 PM: Complicating matters on one detour-route-detour, SPD and SFD are responding to word of a 4-vehicle crash at Delridge/Roxbury, reported to be blocking southbound lanes.
2:36 PM: Just checked with SDOT, which tells us, “the current status is that we have a crew on site performing cleanup and they are planning to place ecology blocks. TBD on when the roads will reopen.” (We also flagged them that the traffic cameras are down again.)
3:48 PM: Cameras are working now. (Here’s the direct link to the one at the top of the hill, currently looking west of Holden.)
4:48 PM: Just went to the top of the hill and walked part of the way down to get a glimpse of the cleanup.
A backhoe was at work, and there’s a lot to scoop up – we’ve just received additional images from earlier – Kay Kirkpatrick says about 100 feet of slope slid:
5:11 PM: And just tweeted by SDOT:
UPDATE: Our crews are hard at work installing ecology blocks and clearing the roadway of debris. The NB & SB lanes on Highland Park Way SW remain closed between SW Holden St and W Marginal Way SW. Use alternate routes. pic.twitter.com/pzeesSufA5
— SDOT Traffic (@SDOTtraffic) January 12, 2022
5:43 PM: One lane has reopened each way, SDOT just announced, after 5 1/2 hours.
6:07 PM: Metro Route 131 has resumed service on the hill, too.
6:26 PM: SDOT adds in a news release, “Additional lanes of the road and sidewalk may be reopened once geological experts verify that the area is safe to travel through.”
The photos are from a water-main break in White Center that is being blamed for trouble including discolored water in Highland Park. The photos are from Tom, who told us via email: “We had a water main break down here in White Center right in front of Mount View Elementary. All of 12th north of the school down to 106th was flooded. I think that the water was also flowing down to Coronado Springs but I never had a chance to see how bad it was down there. Most of us on 12th were pretty busy trying to keep the water out of our houses to limited success. Crews are tearing up the street now to repair and all of us have had our water shut off.”
In Highland Park, residents reporting brown water to Seattle Public Utilities (always call it in to 206-386-1800) report they were told the White Center break is to blame. The SPU water-outage map says it started just before 6 pm.
(SDOT video: Finishing the cleanup)
Almost 33 hours after a slide that took out trees and power lines, the Highland Park Way hill has fully reopened, according to SDOT. The power was restored by late last night but the slide cleanup took a day longer.
2:38 PM: More than 25 hours after a slide took out trees and power lines, closing the Highland Park Way hill and cutting power to 3,200 homes and businesses, the cleanup continues and the road remains closed. We’ve received photos and an update from SDOT.
SDOT spokesperson Ethan Bergerson tells WSB that crews from other city departments are assisting – including Seattle City Light and Parks and Recreation: “City crews are still working to clear debris and perform erosion control. There is still a lot of debris, and the hillside is muddy and destabilized. We understand that this is an important detour route for the West Seattle Bridge closure and are working hard to reopen some lanes as soon as it is safe to do so.”
No ETA for reopening all or part of the hill, though, Bergerson says. (The power outage was resolved within 8 1/2 hours, as noted in our Friday updates.) A slide in 2017 closed the same stretch of road for more than two days.
8:20 PM: Update from SDOT via Twitter:
UPDATE: Crews are hand pressure washing to improve the road condition. We are working on making it safe before reopening. Thanks for your patience. pic.twitter.com/7nlezYSc4b
— SDOT Traffic (@SDOTtraffic) January 9, 2022
10:24 PM: Reopened.
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
How much? How soon? How big?
They’re all intertwined – the size of the rebuilding project will determine how much it’ll cost and how soon the building – closed half a year already – will be able to reopen.
Award-winning Wittman Estes – led by a Highland Park couple – is on board as the architecture firm that will design the remodeled/repaired HPIC, both the building and grounds. Their presentation started Wednesday night’s discussion, with more than 30 people in attendance. (You can watch a recording of the meeting here.)
Four months after we first reported that Addy’s Pet Shop was on the way to 11th/Henderson, it’s about to open. We stopped by as proprietor David Leischner worked to get everything set up this weekend.
When we spoke with him in August, he had hoped to open the shop in October, but as often happens with new businesses, things took longer than planned, including dealing with the city (if only there was a checklist for new businesses, he laments). But now everything is just about ready to go, and the shop will open Tuesday (December 14th), not too late to get in some holiday shopping (that’s an Advent calendar for dogs he’s holding in our photo above). And Addy’s is stocked with a wide variety of food – chilled/frozen, too.
Mostly for dogs and cats, although Leischner added some chicken feed at a friend’s request. Lots of non-edible merchandise, too, from dog jackets to cat towers:
Getting the store set up has involved a lot more than stocking it – heating, lighting, flooring – and then there are the routines to get used to – like answering the phone with the business name rather than “hello”!
Addy’s (named for the family pup) is just blocks from Westcrest Park, home to West Seattle’s only off-leash park, so he’s had lots of visitors peering in – “nonstop dogs,” in particular – and has been heartened to see “the neighborhood cheering me on.” Addy’s Pet Shop will be open Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 am-7 pm, starting this week. (Online shopping will be available soon too – the shop’s website isn’t live yet.)
Five and a half months after historic Highland Park Improvement Club was heavily damaged by fire, the club and community are in the process of re-envisioning its future. This included an online town hall two months ago (WSB coverage here), and now it’s time for another one, online Wednesday. Here’s the announcement:
The rebuild begins with a design – and we want your input!
So many talented people live in our neighborhood, including award-winning architect Matt Wittman, of Wittman Estes. He’s been a longtime HPIC supporter, and he and his firm are passionate about designing the rebuild. Wittman Estes has been unanimously selected by the Board to help us envision and create the space for our next hundred years.
Meet Matt virtually at our next Town Hall, where he will help us to gather input from the community about what the future of HPIC could be, from programs we offer to the space we hold them in.
Wednesday, December 15 – 7 pm
Zoom link at hpic1919.org
Matt and his wife and partner in the firm, Landscape Architect Jody Estes, have lived in Highland Park for years, attending family Movie Nights way back when, and many Corner Bars too. Wittman Estes has been honored with numerous awards, including the national award-winning Tsuga Townhomes on Highland Park Way. In acknowledgement and support of HPIC’s volunteer spirit and our community, Matt and Jody, principals of the firm, have pledged to contribute a generous amount of their time pro-bono.
Matt and his team are helping us to develop an online survey to gather input from you regarding the re-visioning of the building – we will send out the survey before Town Hall #2.
That link is available now from the HPIC home page.
You can give the gift of play by donating to the Highland Park Elementary PTA‘s playground campaign, which ends this Friday (December 3rd). It’s the next step in a years-long effort to get the kids something beyond blacktop to play on. As of this week, they’re halfway to the goal, but that’s a long way to go to cover full costs. Here are ways to donate:
Fund a Playground Feature
You can make a donation to help us purchase different parts of the playground and outdoor learning garden.Your gift can fund:
Paint for kickball, 4-square or bike trail around the playground – $50
Dry cobble rain swale animal footprint or natural print OR classroom garden box – $100
Trees for learning garden – $250
Bench OR logs for seating – $750
Spinner toy OR mosaic tile project for students – $1,500
Climbing boulders – $2,500
Dry cobble rain swale OR artist payment for pavement or wall mural art – $10,000
Or you can donate any amount you can afford. Here’s the PayPal link. If you have questions about the project and/or donating, email@example.com is how to reach the PTA.
4:13 PM: If you’re headed out or back on a route that would take you through the Highland Park Way/Holden intersection, heads up – a crash is reported, with SPD and SFD responding (the latter, for possible injuries). It’s said to be blocking southbound lanes.
4:53 PM: No further updates, but SFD has closed out of the call, so no major injuries.